The Secret to Self-Love No One Told Me

Graphic created by the author

I’m a Reiki practitioner specializing in women, and I also photograph women for a living. I’ve been working with women for seventeen years and it has been more fulfilling than you can imagine. I’m sure it’s no surprise that the topics of self-love, self-worth and self-appreciation come up quite regularly in my work, and I haven’t only heard it all, I’ve said it all. The search for self-love is as old as time but it’s not as elusive as the world would like us to believe.

The struggle is real but in this article, I’m going to reveal the secret that, when I had this epiphany, the clouds parted and the clarity rained down on me. But first, let’s talk about the concept of self-love, some myths to keep in mind, and even some of the actions I took that unexpectedly helped me prepare for this epiphany.

What is Self-Love?

Self-love is believing you deserve to love and be loved simply because you exist. It is trusting in your divine right to believe in yourself, love yourself, seek and experience happiness, regardless of what others believe about you. It transcends physical beauty and is in alignment with your truest and most authentic self.

We struggle with self-love for a variety of different reasons, including our own and others’ expectations, collective definitions of what “beauty” is, and also as a part of our own human experience. Everyone has their own individual reasons and experiences for why they feel the way they feel and this creates their own reality. Understanding your own reality is important, but even more important is gaining the knowledge and insight to change your perspective on yourself.

Myths Associated with Self-Love

Truly loving myself is something I’ve struggled with for a very long time and, not knowing what to do about it, I just tried to accept it. Except it always bothered me that I wasn’t always like this. There were always things I would’ve changed about myself, had I owned a magic wand, but overall, I liked being me. I thought I was pretty amazing, but then one day I didn’t feel this way anymore and I was completely ill-equipped to handle it. Eventually, I needed to start exploring the roots of this conundrum, which then led me to explore how to reverse it.

Here are a few myths I bumped into along the way.

Myth #1: You can buy your way into loving yourself. No book, statement t-shirt, botox, retreat, or fancy diet will make you love yourself. This doesn’t mean that you can’t purchase things to help you along with your journey, but it does mean that just because you do doesn’t guarantee that you will suddenly fall deeply in love with yourself. If it were that easy, we’d all be throwing money around like it’s nobody’s business.

Myth #2: Someone else can make you love yourself. It doesn’t matter how much your partner, kids, family, or friends love you, it won’t rub off on you. To even put that responsibility onto another person is unfair, yet we do it all the time. Unfortunately, if you don’t believe this from your own self, you won’t believe it from someone else. I wish I had a nickel for every time a woman repeated the statement “I wish you could see you through my eyes” from a time her mate said this to her. #richgirl

Myth #3: It’s a destination, not a journey. I wish, with all of my being, that when you read the big secret below, the clouds will part and the heavens will shine a light upon you that will turn you into a pile of self-loving glitter for all of time. This will not happen. This really is a journey. You will most certainly revel in your moments of bliss, but as with any journey, there will be twists and turns that will knock you off of your path, and that shit hurts. But because you’re putting the work in and building a map, your soul will find its way back to that wonderful state of self-love faster and faster each time.

Myth #4: If you whine about it enough, it will go away. Here’s the thing: there is only one way to change the version of yourself you believe in: EFFORT. If you’re one of those whiners, has it changed anything for you so far? You actually have to take action and it’s not always easy, but it is worth it.

How I Prepared for My Self-Love Journey

Everything you see in my list below is everything I did that I thought would help me end my struggle with self-love. They didn’t do that. But what they did do, that I can now see, is to set me up to be in a place to accept this big epiphany. So, If you read what I have to say about the big epiphany that cracked the universe wide open for me regarding my own battle with self-love and you just “get it”, then you get it. However, if you’re anything like me, a process works and it helps lead to deeper understanding and clarity. It takes time and effort for me to have hindsight, which has always been my greatest teacher.

  • Read books that motivated me (My personal favorites as of writing this are The Way of Integrity by Martha Beck, A Radical Awakening by Dr. Shefali, Untamed by Glennon Doyle, The Choice by Dr. Edith Eger, This Messy Magnificent Life by Geneen Roth, The Path Made Clear by Oprah Winfrey)
  • Listened to motivational podcasts (usually those that included the authors above)
  • Took myself out on solo dates (turns out I’m an awesome date).
  • Got professional help with a Reiki Master.
  • Wrote myself Love Notes.
  • Gifted myself Self-Care days.
  • I began journaling so I had a safe space to dump all of my low vibration crap.
  • Created and engaged in a spiritual practice.
  • Moved my body through walks and other forms of exercise I didn’t hate.
  • Began praying/talking to the universe and a higher power.

The Secret

Finally, we have arrived at the secret to self-love that no one told me.

You can only exist in a state of self-love by living in a state of high-frequency vibration.

I will dive much deeper into this below, but first, let’s define high and low-frequency vibration. Everything in this universe is made up of matter, which is made of energy, and energy vibrates, so everything in the world vibrates at different frequencies. In the world of spirituality, it is widely believed that our actions, behaviors, emotions, thoughts, and beliefs are either high vibration or low vibration at any given moment, and tend to either put you in a state of positivity or negativity, based on which vibration you exist within at any given moment. It is also believed that one can learn how to exist primarily in a higher vibrational state, thus eliminating lower frequency vibrations, and therefore living a more satisfying and joyful life.

How does this apply to self-love?

One of the first steps I took when I first decided to climb out of my pit of self-loathing was to try to change my thinking with regards to the attributes I didn’t like about myself. Every time I began any form of negative self-talk, I’d try to move into a place of self-acceptance. I wanted to believe that, in spite of my flaws, I was beautiful, likable, and worthy of love.

“I wanted to believe that, in spite of my flaws, I was beautiful, likable, and worthy of love.”

That’s the thing with self-acceptance; it keeps you riding on a hamster wheel of focusing on your flaws while trying to convince yourself that you’re lovable anyway, and that keeps you in a place of low vibration. How? Because true self-love doesn’t bother wasting time picking corn out of chickenshit. Why?

Because true self-love is an inevitability of living in a state of high vibration.

Let me explain how this all started with a 70+-year-old woman I saw when I was 22 years old, which was 26 years ago.

While my friends and I were attending a concert at Red Rocks in Colorado, I noticed a small clearing in an area about 30 feet from where I was standing. It was as if people were making sure to walk around that area, rather than through it. I took a few steps to my left to see why this was happening and I saw the tiniest woman sitting on the ground. She had long, straight, white hair with a bit of gray. She had on a white long shift and she was seated in the Buddha position with her hands on her lap. I could see a slight smile on her face as she looked around, taking in the scene. It was as if she was moving in slow motion and she looked so peaceful. I couldn’t quit staring at her and I noticed that the women I was attending the show with were standing right next to me in the same trance.

“Wow”, I said. “I want to know what she knows. She definitely knows the secret to life. Just look at her.” All of my friends nodded without taking their eyes off of her.

Once the show began, I looked away. Just like that, she was gone. Those few minutes have stayed with me all of my life. To this day I still have no idea how we all knew that she knew something we all didn’t, but we knew it and we didn’t question it.

When I understood the secret to self-love, this woman came crashing into my mind. You see, I could never envision her standing in front of a mirror pulling her skin because she felt it was too wrinkly, or pushing her belly in because she thought it was too saggy. Even more, visualizing her saying things to herself like, “My wrinkles ARE beautiful. My belly DOESN’T make me unlovable. I am NOT obnoxious. And no matter what, I AM worthy of love”, just did not sit well. It was all kinds of wrong.

Then it dawned on me why this was so unbelievable. It was because I knew that this woman lived in such a state of high vibration that she spilled over with all of the beautiful things we are gifted in this world but never realize are ours for the taking. When you live in this place, self-love is merely a byproduct of your existence.

Look at that photo at the top of this post. If you can accept this truth, you have everything you need to love yourself fully and for the rest of your days:

Low-frequency vibration cannot live where high-frequency vibration reigns.

When you’re filled with those high vibration emotions and feelings, everything that is lovely, beautiful, fulfilling, and life-affirming is a certainty. High-frequency vibration naturally breeds, grows, and expands these things.

How Do We Live in a State of High Vibration?

This answer to this question is both easy and difficult. It’s easy because, as I stated above, if you can simply embody all of the emotions, feelings, behaviors, and thoughts under “high vibration” in the photo at the top of this article, you will live in a constant state of high vibration. However, it’s also difficult because most of us can’t always live in that place all of the time. Hell, most of us can only figure out how to visit there occasionally, if that.

Here are a few things I always keep in mind when I need help shifting into this space.

Consistency is key. Everything works if you do it consistently. For example, you will build muscle if you work out consistently. Your bank account will grow if you save money consistently. Your plants will live and thrive if you water them consistently.

If you’re like me, this takes practice. Over time, I’ve gotten better at this and now it comes more easily. I now find that I can stay in a space of high vibration for longer periods of time and it takes less effort to get there.

When in doubt, practice gratitude. Gratitude is, by far, the most effective state of being you can be in that will obliterate low vibrations instantly. Anger, jealousy, selfishness, and all the other low vibration emotions and behaviors simply cannot exist alongside gratitude, and gratitude, from what I can tell, is the easiest state to shift into. If I’m sad, trying to convince myself to be happy doesn’t usually work. But when I’m having a bad day and I take some time to consider three to five things that I’m deeply grateful for, my mood changes instantly, and so does my vibration. All of a sudden, I’m not sad anymore.

Side note: when I talk about sadness, I’m not talking about clinical mental health issues. Depression is a serious diagnosis that requires proper treatment. Sadness is an emotion and mood, just like happiness, that a person can shift in and out of through their own efforts.

Realize that all emotions, moods, behaviors, etc., aren’t all good or all bad. They aren’t mutually exclusive. Sometimes we need to feel anger so that we can learn how to stand up for ourselves. Sometimes feeling mistrust is exactly what we need to feel because we know someone isn’t being honest with us. The point is to use your intuition to feel into these spaces and decide whether they are serving you or not. If they are, awesome. If they aren’t, you now know what to do here.

Pay attention to with whom you are spending time. If you’re leaving certain people feeling moody and drained, you may want to either practice boundary work or you can just stay away from those energy vampires. Conversely, if the people you’re spending time with leave you feeling joyful and positive, then those are your peeps. One is low vibration, the other is high. This is a no-brainer.

Breathe and smile. Sometimes, when I’m working or in the midst of something that’s more complicated than I want it to be, I find myself pursing my lips and furrowing my brow. When I realize what I’m doing I stop, focus on my breathing, and genuinely and authentically smile. If this sounds too simple for you, try it. #toldyouso

Move your body. When you dance, exercise, go for a walk, do some yoga, or any kind of movement, your body gets a chance to release stress, tension, and thoughts that may not be serving you. Think about how much you’d rather eat glass than go to that Pilates class, but walk out feeling like you’re on a high. Am I right or am I right?

Let nature scrub you clean. Mother nature produces some of the best high-frequency vibrations out there and when you’re in nature, it’s like a scrub brush for your soul. Taking a mindful hike or jog through the woods is like taking your car through a car wash. Squeaky clean!

Realize that everyone can easily reach high vibration, but few of us can stay in a high-vibrational state all of the time (as I stated above). The trick is to remember that rather than trying to force a state of high vibration, or worse, getting upset when you’re not, be mindful of when you’re in a lower vibration and do whatever it is that you know raises your vibration for you.

Lastly, I realize I’m making it sound so easy to simply pop from one mood to another simply by changing your behavior in an instant. It’s not. It’s very difficult for me to be laying on my couch in a puddle of tears, feeling sadness all the way to my bones, to then pop up and start dancing, whisking my sadness away. There is nothing more I don’t want to do when feeling awful than take some action to change it. But I can tell you this: choosing to stay in that low vibration state takes more effort than changing it. That’s the truth.

The goal here is to build your own high vibration map so that your self-awareness becomes keener. This allows you to quickly assess what state of being you’re in, and then make a choice as to whether or not you want to change it.

This is it. This is what it’s all about and this is power, my friend.

Above all else, remember that you’re in the midst of a human experience, and the most helpful, valuable, powerful, and inexhaustible action you can allow yourself to take advantage of at any time is forgiveness. I don’t know much but I do know this: you are exactly where you’re supposed to be, doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing, in the time you are supposed to be doing it. If you’ve read this all the way through, my guess is that wherever you are and whatever you’re doing has something to do with your own path to self-love. And to that I say this:

Welcome to the journey, friend. xx

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Elizabeth Craig

Elizabeth Craig

Photographer, Reiki Practitioner, wanderer, ponderer, lover of writing.